Hybrid warfare and hybrid threats are emerging modalities in the changing nature of warfare. In the nuclear era, more attention has been given to the sub-conventional conflicts, because of the lethality of nuclear weapons; the deterrence being created by the nuclear-weapon states prevents other nuclear-weapon states from engaging in total war. Furthermore, international legal bindings prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons have eliminated the probability of an all-out war. Thus, the thrust of war has been envisioned by revisionist actors in the form of a new kind of warfare, predominantly through cyber-attacks and subversion, fake news campaigns, sponsoring of proxy forces, and through economic blackmail. Hybrid warfare is a challenge, which brings into play an array of tactics and strategies thereby inflicting harm to the adversary, whilst exploiting the revolution in technological affairs. It targets the vulnerabilities of any society, with the aim to divide and dissuade the population, undermines the key institutions, and even deteriorates the bond between the states and international organizations. In a nutshell, hybrid warfare is a full-spectrum of war, which encompasses both physical and psychological aspects of the adversary.
Pakistan has also been the victim of hybrid warfare. Since its inception, India has waged wars or indulged in conflict with Pakistan, in one way or the other. Even now, India is sparing no effort to target Pakistan at the domestic level which encompasses all the political, social, economic, and religious factors. In this regard, it has left no stone unturned in defaming and maligning Pakistan in the international arena through its fake propaganda. Pakistani society is an amalgam of ethnic groups, sectarian factions, and cultural blocs, which are being exploited by India and used as a fault line and a grey-zone in conflict. India is operating radicalized militant groups in Pakistan and is fueling the unrest in Balochistan. In pursuit of this, Afghanistan’s land is being exercised by India in its endeavor to destabilize Pakistan by operating terrorist organizations to fulfill its hybrid agenda against Pakistan.
Considering the spillover of untrue and fallacious information, the complexity of warfare has tremendously been increased. India is involved in various operations against Pakistan to defame and discredit the country, in its pursuit to isolate it internationally as well. Its conspiracy of defaming and maligning Pakistan has also been put out in the EU DisinfoLab Report of 2020. According to that report, India is operating the largest ever fake media network, with 750+ fake media websites, and resurrecting the dead scholars, and propagating the false news in the international media. The report has further revealed that it has misused the politicians of the EU parliament who genuinely wanted to defend human rights and provided a platform to far-right politicians when convergent objectives were pursued. Furthermore, India is also involved in terrorists’ activities and trying its level best to sabotage the economic project of Pakistan the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which apparently is a headache for it. Hence, India is using a variety of subversive tactics of hybrid warfare, to destabilize Pakistan both externally and internally. Even though Pakistan has encountered many security challenges successfully, the non-traditional security challenge-the hybrid warfare, waged by India. Therefore, in the contemporary state of affairs, Pakistan must identify and efficiently counter the gradually escalating non-traditional threats such as the hybrid threats.
Hence summarizing it all, there is a need for Pakistan to pen down a grand strategy for countering all the traditional and non-traditional threats including the hybrid war posed by India. In this regard, it would be appropriate for Pakistan to develop Hybrid Warfare and Stratagem Centre that would address policymakers; develop metrics to get a grip on events, and make them susceptible to the threats and cognizance for curbing them in the future. Media, on the other hand, is seen as one of the lethal and sophisticated weapons to target the enemy’s will and exploit its weaknesses. It is used to target the opponent population by changing their perception regarding their government. Therefore, the media has to play a pivotal role in curbing the fake news propaganda and misinformation, as it is the most significant tool used in propagating bogus information; besides, the media should strictly promote Pakistan’s narrative in fighting against this ubiquitous threat. Furthermore, the law enforcement agencies are needed to expand their cooperation with each other and be further equipped to fight against the abstract threat of hybrid warfare. In pursuit of this, smart utilization of Artificial Intelligence would further add to the purpose. Last but not the least, the government must provide adequate awareness and vigilance to the local population of the country, in order to make them aware of the actions and ill-will of the adversary in its attempt to dissect the society. Hence, the cautious and observant society is the first and foremost step in the line of defense against this new challenge, and the entire country needs to play a crucial role in curbing the spiteful act of the foe.